Last week Israel proudly boasted of a sharp increase in the transfer of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. This announcement coincided with the publication of a statement of concern by the European Union regarding the humanitarian situation in Gaza, noting that there has been no improvement since January 2009, when the war ended.
One can’t help but wonder if an increase in the supply of aid is really something to be proud of. Israel isn’t the one paying for the aid. On the contrary, international organizations claim that due to the problems and restrictions created by Israel, they are forced to spend millions of dollars on logistics to work around the restrictions, instead of investing all their resources on the aid itself. They also say that the increase in supply over the past year stems from the drastically increased need for aid following the war.
Besides the fact that Israel is once again proud of itself for overcoming obstacles of its own creation, and that it deliberately chose a point of reference which is very low, the connection between the closure policy and the increased need for humanitarian aid should also be taken into consideration. In 2007, aid represented only 3% of all imports into the Gaza Strip. Yet in 2009, aid now represents 26% of all imports.
So long as the economy is paralyzed – with 95% of factories closed, Israel continuing to prevent the import of raw materials for industry, and the unemployment rate having risen 30% since the start of the closure to its current rate of 41.5% – it is doubtful whether there is any possibility that the need for aid will decrease.
Is this what the future has in store for the Gaza Strip – its residents left dependent on aid while the process of de-development continues?